Want a bit of advice !!!!!!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

hey i am planning to buy a GSD puppy, but this will be my first dog, so just wanted to ask whether GSD is a suitable breed for first time owners or not????.......replies awaited

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:01 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

I would say absolutely YES, as long as you understand the breed's need for exercise, mental stimulation and training, and you get a well bred one. A better dog you'll not find anywhere, but they are not for the couch potato!

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:05 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

Read - read - read everthing you can get your hands on about the breed! This board is a great resource for information and I'd follow every link to other sites to get even more prepared for your new pup.

GSDs are extremely intelligent dogs - although they're content to be "pets" suitable for lounging, they also need mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy. I know there are many people on this board who are actively involved in sports with their dogs and the relationship they've established is a close one. Hopefully, you'll get lots of responses that will give you the confidence you need to be ready to add a German Shepherd to your family.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:33 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

Well we all had to get a GSD for the first time I think it would be a great idea for you to join a GSD rescue group and learn from new found friends. Perhaps foster a GSD first or take a friends GSD to a training lesson.

Belle (gone over the bridge)
Sable (my silly, loud 'large' girl)
4 Rescued cats (a rainbow of fur)
One husband who is the greatest. He takes care of my animals and gives them TLC
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:44 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

I would say no, not unless you go with a fantastic, reputable, cannot-be-recommended enough breeder who understands your experience level, talks with you at length about the breed, their lines, and what to expect, and interviews you extensively to find out the best match or even if they would have a good match for you.

Some GSDs are more forgiving than others and are better for first timers. Many GSDs are true to their breed type and really aren't suited for everyone. A lot of people want a golden retriever or a lab in a GSD body and this is wrong to desire and also wrong to produce. A GSD puppy needs TONS and TONS of socialization to grow up into a well adjusted dog. They also need training from day one, but PROPER training for their age. They not only need a lot of physical exercise but they need a LOT of- if not more of- mental exercise. This means lots and lots of training or else they'll find other ways to amuse themselves.

Examine yourself and those you live with. Are you able to take charge of a situation and be a good leader to a dog? If you'd rather let the dog decide when to go out, decide when to eat, decide when to play, and decide when to bark, the GSD may not be for you as many will quickly walk all over a weak owner! Read up on firm yet fair leadership where respect flows both ways to decide if you are up to the task.

This is a breed that is great at almost everything so it is intelligent, active, and versatile. A good GSD has good protection instinct even though it may not be wanted in many places these days. There are all too many backyard breeders and people who should not be breeding, producing fearful dogs with bad aggression or GSDs that generally should not be, so be forewarned. It can be very hard to find a breeder so when we say "do your homework," take it to mean college-level thesis instead of 1st grade math. A good GSD is a wonderful thing, but the owner-dog relationship must be such that the dog looks up to the handler and not vice versa (insofar as who calls the shots). It's like Chewie taking orders from Han Solo or Spock taking orders from Kirk rather than the relationship a subordinate would have with Castro or a grumbly manager.

Are you aware of the costs of owning a GSD? They are far from cheap and unfortunately they are far from healthy. Even the best lines have digestive issues, hip and elbow dysplasia, and other potential, devastating problems. Despite tons of tests, there is never a guarantee that two dogs of exemplary health will produce the same. Purchase price for a good pup is also not cheap- a GSD pup from good lines may run over $1000 and sometimes much more depending on the type of GSD you want. Feeding a GSD is a huge issue as well. A GSD may not have digestive problems but can still have allergies and digestive sensitivities, making food choices tough. Some of us feed a raw diet and will never look back to kibble, others dissect kibble to the finest molecule to determine what is best for their dog. There is no one food right for every GSD but often the right foods for the dog are unfriendly to the wallet!

Then there is the next conundrum- the GSD is split into several subtypes, the main ones being American showline, German showline, and European working line. The working lines are more true to the original GSD type but they can be too much for the average owner even though they do produce some wonderful, intelligent pets, though some can look fugly and jackal-like and many have TONS of energy! German showlines are often beautiful but they also often come with quite the price tag. They are almost always saddle black and red and some have more rear angulation and others have rounded backs. These dogs are required to pass several health, temperament, and ability tests before being allowed to breed to the German SV standard (same with working line but it's not so much enforced, it seems). American showlines are the dogs you see on Westminster and are known for their increased rear angulation. Some dogs are very moderate and others look like they walk "flat footed" but there are still American lines that have the brains and ability to work. Everyone has their preference, mine is completely the working line and some German showlines, most notably those that herd the original German way, tending flocks numbering in the hundreds.

From my small novel, you can probably ascertain that I do NOT recommend the GSD to just anyone. In fact, I feel it is way too popular for its own good and a lot of people who have a GSD would be better off with something else (or even nothing else). Be prepared to read your eyes out and also be prepared to spend money on a good dog (but not too much), then money on food, money on TRAINING CLASSES (start right away, seriously, don't stop at just one or two!), and money on toys, money on a camera, money on the vet, money on grooming tools, money on a crate... I did say the breed wasn't cheap, right? Another thing to think about is activities. Your GSD is going to be smart and active, so how about agility, rally, flyball, obedience, or even schutzhund! If you have a beauty of a GSD you can even hit the show ring! Visit local clubs (if you have a schutzhund club near you, I strongly suggest visiting, even if you're not interested. They are FUN and the dogs clearly have a blast). In any case, explore the options to keep your GSD happy and healthy!

If you find a GSD is right for you, there is no better choice. If you aren't sure, we can probably point you to a more fitting breed!

Renji - 6 y/o M GSD x chow rescue

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:50 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

Fostering a GSD is a wonderful idea, LUV_GSDs!

Another great idea was posted by LAW1558: Read everything you can about the breed!

A good starting book is <u>German Shepherds for Dummies</u>.

Please don't be put off by the title! It's just the name of a series of books. The book really does have a lot of useful information.


Proud "mom" to Kukla (GSD/Boxer mix)

Rest in peace, Lydie (GSD mix) (CGC) (1991-2003)
Rest in peace, Beautiful Jo (corgi mix)(1974-1991)
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 08:54 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

I was not a big dog fan until we got our first gsd. He was a puppy and was a REAL handful.
I now foster german shepherds and have met many personalities. I have learned, atleast for myself, it is easier to start out ( especially if this is your first dog.) with a dog rather than a young puppy. You can tell what their personality is like, their manners and behavior. I agree about checking out a rescue. They can help you find the right puppy/dog for you. Also a lot of rescues offer support for you and your dog.

Mom to Brightstar's Cartwright (Hutch), Mila and Danica
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 09:05 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

GSD's need at least 2 hours of your time in the morning and another 2 hours at night especially when they are young. I would never have a GSD as an outside dog. They need to be part of the family to bond properly etc.....

Ollie - BH, TR - 2, CGC, HIC, HCT, TT

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:06 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

I would also say NO, unless:

You worked really closely with a responsible breeder to get the right puppy for your background and experience (means they pick the puppy, not you).

You have a trainer lined up and puppy classes in place for you to start soon after getting the puppy.

Know about crate training and will use it.

Have alot of free time every day to spend WITH THE PUPPY. I know I plan a schedule and put it on my calendar for the first year or so. Big plans about every other day (hiking, classes, socialization, car rides, visiting friends, visiting work, play dates with other dogs..) and little plans the other days.

I know the days of sleeping in were gone, I now get up 1 hour earlier than my 'no dog' life. I plan my vacations (or no vacations) around the fact I have a puppy and want to take her. This is while I'm training and socializing her so that when she IS older I have a list of friends and neighbors who can't wait to have her visit when I am gone.

No more coming in from work and crashing on the sofa to watch tv. During the first year it's coming in the house, changing into play clothes, and then leaving for our fun event.

Have to say, I have found that the very traits (high energy and intelligence) that make our GSD's such good drug dogs, protection dogs, herding dogs, search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, etc... Are the very same traits that can become extremely challenging for any dog owner, let alone a person who's never raised a pup before. I know I always thank goodness my first puppy was a Lab! I easily raised her and thought I just had the natural knack, and then I got my first GSD and realized I had no knack at all!


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"Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you already have. ~ "--- Michael Bernhard, gratitude
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:34 PM
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Re: Want a bit of advice !!!!!!!

I agree with Diana and Maggie. For a first time dog owner, a GS may be a handful. I had owned many different types of breeds growing up...from a dobie to a golden retriever to a toy poodle...each dog, each breed, each one was different. However, a GS is by far the most intelligent as well as, highly active dog I ever owned.

You have to be willing to spend the time, make the effort and shell out the dough, to own a GS. This is not a "self care" kind of dog. A GS always wants to be with you, wants to play, learn and make you happy. It is like having a child. You have to put in the time of training. TRAINING IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! A GS that has not been trained properly can be an owner's nightmare. You will end up with aggression problems, socialization and other bad habits you don't want. Also, when training, it is not just going to a trainer for one or two times. It is continuous! Even when your not at the trainers, you have to spend everyday doing training exercise with him.

GS are extremely active dogs. You must keep them stimulated so they won't get bored! So not only do you have to make time to train, but for play as well.

There is a lot to know about the breed, you should read up before purchasing. If you decide to go with a GS, they are extremely wonderful animals. They are loving and loyal and will be your best friend till the end. Good luck with your decision.

We are loved beyond our capacity to comprehend ~Jewel

Stewie, Orange Tabby, yrs old
Shane, GSD, 20 months
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